Saturday, February 27, 2010


Dh finally sold his piece of equipment, left over from his business, today. He's been trying to sell it off and on for a year or more.  And he got his $4500 asking price!  WOOHOO!!  Now if I can keep him from spending most of it - we can pay my Mom fully off what we owe her...and that will help the monthly budget by getting rid of that monthly payment.  But I'm not holding my breath on him not spending it.  He's been wanting to buy a used pickup that he can haul stuff in and pull a trailer with, so it won't surprise me if he suddenly comes up with that idea again :-(

Update:  Dh gave me the money to pay off my mom :-) 

Friday, February 26, 2010


With Ds starting college classes this past Fall, I got the shock of how much textbooks cost! Yikes!  Granted, my mom is covering the cost of this, but still....

And I've discovered quite a difference in prices when I started comparing around.  For example, a book he needs for one of his classes next quarter is selling at the campus bookstore new for $161.70.  Used it is $121.30.  A little online searching and I found it new at for $96.00 and $80.00 used.  A little more searching on (a site that compares many sites prices for you) and I found a "like new" used copy for sale on for $30!!  Needless to say, I bought this one right away :-).  Plus I went through and got 5 points per dollar.  I'm sure Mom will appreciate being told it's $30 and not $161.

Ds is doing what our state calls the Running Start Program, where as a high school student he can take college courses that count for both high school and college credit. Tuition is paid for by the school district (we just pay quartely fees and books). He could have started last year in his Jr. year, but we didn't hear about this program until the end of his Jr. year.  But, by the time he graduates High School in June, he will have 40 credit of college out of the way, saving us $3080 in tuition.  Not a bad deal at all.

Finally Friday!

This week has seemed so long. I spent most of it (until this morning) unable to access into my desktop at work so that I could work from home, as I do about 24 hrs a week out of my 40.  Seems we had server changes at work which affected those of us with remote login.

I started my usual Thursday evening task, last night, of making a grocery list.  I was having a mental block as to what dinners to plan for the upcoming week.  As of lunchtime today I still only have 3 ideas of meals that sound good for dinner. This isn't like me at all.  Maybe I'm just tired from the computer struggles of the week....but the grocery shopping trip is only 3 hrs away...

Ds signed up for his spring quarter college classes this morning.  He wanted to start going to day classes but EVERY single class they offer during the day is filled.  And finding night classes was even a struggle. I think because he's a high school/running start student his registration comes after regular college students in the priority line.  He did manage to get 3 classes on 2 nights a week (this quarter he has been going 4 nights) starting at 2:15 and ending at 10pm.  A long day but only twice a week and the last class on Tues is only on Tues nights, so on Thurs he'll be done at 7:40.

Dh has off and on for the past year been trying to sell off a couple of large pieces of equipment he has left from his business, on Criagslist.  He's had the price down really low and still no luck. Nobody has any money to spend in this economy. Well this morning he got a call from someone who seems pretty darn interested in one of them.  Would be about $4000, I think! I'm keeping my fingers crossed :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spending update

I did manage to only spend money on milk at the store - I sent my son to get it! LOL

It was a very unproductive day.  I worked from home today and again had computer problems all day and didn't really get to work at all.  This time it was something wrong with server settings at the office end. It's getting so frustrating not to be able to get my work done and then have to try to make up the hours.

We didn't have fast food/take out the last 2 nights.  Last night was steak and baked potato, tonight was a chicken/rice/mixed vegetables meal.  Tomorrow is supposed to be chili.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spending so far this week

Food/groceries came to $100.50, which is really good.  I spent an additonal $36.46 at Walmart for some oil for ds's car, shop towels and some speakers for my computer.  We were doing great eating the meals I've planned until last night.  Dh wanted Wendy's, not the steak I had planned.  But, I only spent $9.61 at Wendy's, the rest of us ate stuff from home.  Sunday night I had a craving for Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait's! I thought I'd splurge on the treat since we hadn't done any take out in 4 nights. That came to over $16! If I had known dh would pull a fast food night last night I probably wouldn't have done the Dairy Queeen.  Oh well.

So, tonight's plan is for the steak and no take out for the rest of the week. (I plan my menu's from Fri - Thurs since I usually shop on Friday's). I will need to make one more store trip this week for more milk and hopefully I can get out of the store with only milk.

Dh spent $24 for something on ebay...I don't remember what it was...some tool he "has" to have.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I don't want to be 92 yrs old

Today we took my soon to be 92 year old grandma to check out an assisted living home....something we've been trying to get her to do for a couple of years now.  It's way past time and my mom finally realized that.  Grandma's been pretty stubborn about staying at her place, but at her age and health it's just not a good thing anymore.  My mom has tried to have someone come in to help her mornings and clean house, but she doesn't like the lady - "she's too hard on my things".  She doesn't want an assisted living apartment because "I don't like apartments". 

After pressing her "life line" button a few weeks ago and a trip to the hospital for tests (nothing found, she's just old!) and a week stay at my mom's, my mom finally set her foot down and told my grandma she cannot live on her own anymore.  She is getting very forgetful lately (which isn't a good thing when she takes several medicines) and can't get around much walking. She doeasn't do much of anything and alot of the times in the afternoons just sits there - no tv on, nothing.  She doesn't read anymore, nor can she crochet. My mom visits her nearly everyday and I stop on my way home from work on Thursday and spend about an hour and a half visiting her. My mom put her little mobile home up for sale and we think there is already a buyer.  We should know for sure in the next couple of days.  Of course grandma thinks my mom didn't ask enough for it!  Then when my mom mentioned having an estate sale (this of course, would be after her place is sold) grandma said "oh no, I wouldn't want people coming in my house getting the floors all dirty!"  Too funny.

The trip today was to a new assisted living place less than a mile from my house. It's very nice.  She'd have a little one bedroom apartment, 3 meals a day, housekeeping and a way to get around to places like the store, if she wanted to go with on the community bus. We got to have lunch there with her.  The only thing grandma could find "wrong" with the apartment was she wasn't sure if the microwave was the right wattage! We assured her it would heat up her food :-)  I hope this is the place she ends up - it's so close to both me and my mom.  I would have much more time to visit her being so close. Where she lives now is almost a half hour drive and hard to squeeze in on busy weekends.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning

I always plan out a menu of dinners for the week before I go grocery shopping.  I do the bulk of my shopping at the Super Walmart and also scan the Albertson's and Safeway ads for really good deals.  This week's Albertson's ad has a free 2 ltr Dr Pepper today, Franz bread for $1.29, shredded cheese for $1, and Soup and Hand (I like to take these for my lunch at work) for $1.  I'll be stopping by there today, along with a stop at the library to pick up a book on hold for me.  Other than that we are just going to enjoy this beautiful sunny, near 60 degree day!

Though I don't always stick to it (we do fast food way too often) this is what I planned and purchased for this week:
Spaghetti, french bread, and jello
Steak, baked potato, applesauce and rolls (Dd doesn't like steak, so she will fend for herself - typically french toast or a microwave meal)
French Dip Sandwiches
Swedish meatballs w/rice, applesauce and rolls
Chicken and rice casserole, jello and rolls

Last night was supposed to be the french dip sandwiches, but dh wanted Wendy's hamburgers. He ended up having that, Dd and I had eggrolls, and Ds had hot pockets.  Tonight's plan is for spaghetti, which I usually have leftovers that I can take to work on Monday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

No Spend Days

I read about "no spend days" all the time on blogs and message boards.  I just can't seem to grasp the concept to apply it to my life.  I mean, sure I understand something like not making a major purchase or making yourself wait a few days to see if you still really want it, rather than an impulse buy.  But, I do not understand how proudly stating "I just had 3 no spend days" really helps the budget.

I'm going to spend each month what I'm going to spend, whether I do it today or wait until tomorrow.  If I have to buy my Dd a new pair of black dress shoes she needs for concert band, I have to buy them.  Doesn't matter if I wait and not spend anything for 3 days, I still have to buy those shoes...or gallon of milk, or whatever it is that is needed.   And, since I try to make my shopping stops when I'm already running errands or to/from work I'm not wasting extra gas.  If I purposely don't go buy the needed gallon of milk today on my way home from work (because it's a no spend day) then the next day (when I work from home and don't need to drive anywhere) I would have to make a special trip just to the store because we gotta have the milk.

When the month's all said and done, my spending is most likely going to be exactly the same, whether I spent a little every day or waited and spent it all on one day.  I think I'll skip this "no spend days" method of getting out of debt/saving money and focus my time on finding other solutions to reducing our spending.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ER Trip Avoided

Eegads!  Dh was working out in the shop last night using brake cleaner and an air the same time.  Sprayed it all right into his eyes, face and nose.  He quickly started rinsing his eyes in the shop sink and then blindly fumbled his way back to the house for help.  The can of brake cleaner said to rinse for 15 minutes, so we got him into the shower so he could get both eyes rinsed at the same time.  I thought for sure I was going to have to take him to the urgent care clinic - or worse - the ER.  Fortunately the water rinsing did the trick and saved us a costly visit to a doctor!  I reminded him which drawer the safety glasses are in.

Making Do

We try to make do with what we have.  It can be hard to curb the "wants" when you live in such an affluent area where my kids friends all live in big nice homes and their parents drive Lexus's and BMW's....

and our place looks something like this....

We live on just the edge of these nice neighborhoods, on a little private road with 1+ acre lots with a mixture of dwellings...houses, manuf. homes (of which we have) and single wide trailers.  So, while our neighbors aren't 10 feet away, like the nicer homes nearby, they aren't the most quality neighbors, either.  We make do with our 20 yr old, run down home.

We drive older, paid off cars.  Dh's truck is 11 yrs old, my car is 6 yrs old and Ds drives a 24 yr old car to school and back. We make do and make sure we do regular maintenance on our cars.

Our couch is looking at it's last days, the hole(s) in the seating getting bigger every day.  I have a towel tucked in over one section of seat. It would probably look better if I had it on the other 2 sections so it all matched, but I bought one towel just to see how it would work.  It's always coming loose and I'm always tucking it back in.  Haven't decided if I feel like doing that for all 3 seat sections yet.  Our spoiled 15 month old dog pushed the couch over the edge of shabbiness and I don't feel like making him stay off a brand new couch so we make do with this one for now. (though I do have my eye on one that has been on sale for $400 (from $750) a few times.

The only thing we stopped making do with is our bed.  When I got my last bonus we dumped our old 23 yr old mattress with the big "sink hole" in the middle and bought the cherry sleigh bed I've always wanted, with a quality plush top mattress (couldn't afford the matching dresser, night stands and armoire).  After over a year, I still get into bed every night feeling like I've died and gone to heaven :-)  Making do with that old mattress had gone on way longer than was healthy (I'm thinking those invisible dust mites) for our system or our backs!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Budget on One Income

Here's what we spend our money on each month:

Mortgage  $1423
HELOC    $400
Comcast    $128 (phone, internet, cable)
Cell phones $135 (3 phones)
Electricity  $175 (this is the average based on yearly total)
Garbage   $25
Water     $10
Food & household supplies   $700 (this seems to vary)
Fast food/take out meals    $100
Gas   $200
Health Ins  $188
Life Ins  $18
Auto Ins  $232
Loan from Mom  $200 (or whatever we can afford)
Medical   $30 (copay and prescription)
Kids allowances  $60

This adds up to $4024 - leaving us $276 to cover all the unbudgeted, unexpected expenses - of which there always are.

Comcast will probably be going up in May, after our one year offer is up. (We switched from Qwest and have been saving $10/mo from what were paying with Qwest).  When this happens I plan to call and at least ask for a continued discount.

Cell phones - this will be going down next month and then again in October, after 2 of our phones reach their contract date.  We have 3 phones on this plan. I hardly ever use a cell phone, just want it for emergencies while driving 40 miles each way to work. My plan contract is up next month and Ds's is up in October.  Ds just switched to grandma's plan (which she is kindly paying for the Ds and Dd now at $10 each per month)
We are on a family talk and text plan but don't need this much coverage.  And we've also been paying $7 a month for Ds to have coverage for when his phone breaks, which they always seem to do on him for some reason (which I just now got online and cancelled!).    By October I just plan to cancel my and Ds's phones and put Dh on the cheapest plan.  Then I will get a cheapy prepaid tracphone that will cost about $7 a month. I'm estimating Dh's phone plan will cost about $40 w/taxes (he hates change so at this point easier to just leave him on same phone/plan rather than deal with him trying to deal with changes!). So, by October we should get the cell phone monthly outgo down by $88 a month.

Food/household supplies and take out meals are the only other areas I really have to try and save. Some weeks I do ok, some not so good.  I've already gotten the lowest car insurance I can find and this may in fact go up as Ds was a total idiot for awhile and got 2 tickets! One was deferred if he didn't get another ticket, but then he got a doozy and that went on his record, so I'm sure the deferred one will be adding on....and then our insurace will eventually catch up with it.  Arrgggh!!  If (well, WHEN) this happens Ds will have to suck it up and get a part time job to help pay for insurance.  Right now we want him focusing on school and college as much as possible.

Cutting down on the grocery bill will be a big focus for me and how I go about that will be in future posts, along with some accounting of what I end up spending.

Day One of Blogging

Ok, here we go! I love reading blogs, especially about money, family and frugalness, so thought I'd try my hand at it.

A little background on how we got to be a one income family.  Dh was self employed in the construction industry for the past 20 odd years.  Toss in a frustrating health problem and a recession that wiped out any and all work available to him and you have a business gone down the drain.  Technically, dh has been unemployed a year now, though financially we've only felt the pinch harder the past 6 months or so. Being self employed he cannot get unemployment compensation and after spending years and thousands of dollars trying to find out what is wrong with him physically, which has the best neurologists in the country stumped, we haven't yet been able to get him on disability. I've always tried not to count too much on his income, which was always so seasonal and hard to predict from month to month.

So we live on my income, which consists of approximately $4300 per month take home pay. We have a rather large house payment ($1823) on a rather old run down house (due to a home equity loan taken out when dh was actually making some money and we didn't see the recession coming), but we have no car payments.  Seems like we should be able to do ok financially since we have no car payments, but every month seems to be a struggle.  For 2007 and 2008 I received very nice bonus's of about $12,000 each year.  The recession took that nice big perk away, so we haven't had the cushion of that for the past year.

The boy (Ds) is 18 and graduating this spring, with no plans to move out anytime soon :-).  The girl (Dd) is 14 and in junior high school.  Fortunately, my mom (my dad passed away last year) is very comfortable financially and has always said she would pay for the kids college. Thank you Mom!  Ds will be going to the nearby community college, where he has already started taking classes through a high school program. Wonderful Mom also helps subsidize us in other little ways...more on her later.

So, that's it in a nutshell.  This looks to be our lot in life for awhile so hopefully we can make it - or make do!